“The first time I heard it (the album), I was floored,
Named for a unique Newfoundland phrase that means ‘imminently’, now is indeed the time for The Once.
From their beginnings as three actors who also loved to sing together, The Once has embraced a different vision of Newfoundland music. Their sounds do not come from the noisy pubs and dockside taverns that fuel so much of the Island’s energy. Instead, their music comes from a quieter and more thoughtful place. Hope and tragedy are intertwined in their music, whether they are singing an old lament from World War I, original songs that speak of love defeated, or tasteful songs from the artists whose music inspires them.
Their title of their new album comes from a poem by poet George Murray, a poem that so inspired them they built a song around it. Song For Memory speaks of the power of words and music to freeze time and emotions, to make small moments large, and large moments small. The song’s climax features the memorable line, “row upon row, of the people you know”, life’s expectations writ both in a personal and expansive way at the same time.
As a trio, the band has kept it uncomplicated, depending on the power of their voices and acoustic instruments. Lead singer Geraldine Hollett, has an instrument of rare power; she is a singer who can still a noisy room, so expressive she can tell a novel-length story with a few words. Accompanied by Phil Churchill and Andrew Dale on guitar, mandolin, fiddle and bouzouki, they create a perfect blend of voice and melody. Sometimes melancholy, sometimes funny, always poignant,The Once sound like nothing else that has ever come from Newfoundland.
Their debut album has built a gradual but fervent following, and their live show is unique in its combination of intimacy and power. They have won several East Coast Music and Canadian Folk Music awards, and the country is slowly waking up to just what an amazing band they are. Since they signed to Borealis Records in 2010, they have toured through out the country and Europe, drawing huge crowds and glowing reviews wherever they go. With Row Upon Row of the People They Know, The Once will take their place amongst Canada’s finest performers.
“Whether they keep it a cappella or pile on layers of accordion, bouzouki, mandolin and guitar, each track is a treat. Geraldine Hollett’s strong, clear voice and the rich vocal harmonies of bandmates Phil Churchill and Andrew Dale brim with passion and warmth…It’s time for the rest of the country to listen up.”
“THE ONCE get 3 of 4 stars in Canada’s Globe and Mail
Just as the sea refuses no river, the Once turns back no listeners. These three Newfoundlanders gracefully and evocatively offer gem-like maritime music – foot-stomping shanties, heart-rendering ballads, salt-aired interpretations (of Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen tunes) and a cappella three-part harmonies thicker than Mama Cass’s midriff. The drinkable Geraldine Hollett is the pure-voiced starlet, riveting on the soloed Marguerite. Something singular is happening here, you bet.”
“The Once…are gifted with strong voices that tremble with richness and vitality…Their arrangements of Newfoundland and British Isles folk music are imaginative and newly minted with particularly fine a capella trio versions.”
“Folk group The Once are a St. John’s based trio whose mastery of harmony is comparable to most people’s mastery of breathing…the trio have sung and played their way into the limelight with a laid back and old school style of performance.”
“The most exciting thing to come out of Atlantic Canada since Amelia Curran.”
“Perfect vocal harmonies thick enough to stand on. Think of the heavenly mix of Alison Krauss, Emmylou Harris and Gillian Welch, back them up with The Chieftans, and let Daniel Lanois swim around in it, and you’re still only halfway there.”